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Upton Sinclair (1878 - 1968)

Sinclair, Upton

Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland on September 20th, 1878 to a poor family. His father sold liquor and was an alcoholic. The family moved to New York in 1888. In order to pay for his studies at New York City College, in 1893, he began writing, mostly for magazines. In 1897 he began Columbia University.

Sinclair married for the first time in 1900. Using the unhappiness of his marriage as his muse, he wrote Springtime and Harvest in 1901. He joined the Socialist Party in 1902. In 1906, an assignment from a Socialist magazine led Sinclair to write what is, perhaps, his most popular and well-known novel, The Jungle. The book reported on the appalling conditions of the Chicago meatpacking industry and eventually led to the Pure Food and Drug Act ("For preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors, and for regulating traffic therein, and for other purposes.")

Sinclair settled in Pasadena, California in 1915. His other works include King Coal (1917), Oil! (1927), Boston (1928), and Little Steel (1938), all "muckraker" novels. In 1933, Sinclair gave up his Socialist membership and ran for Governor of California as a Democrat. He wrote I, Governor of California, and How I Ended Poverty: A True Story of the Future, a book that explained his desire behind the EPIC program – End Poverty in California. He had lost the governor's race in 1926, and though he lost again in 1934, it was by a very narrow margin.

He began World's End in 1940, the first of a series of eleven novels about Lanny Budd. The third novel in the series, Dragon's Teeth, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943. Sinclair moved to Arizona in 1953 and died on November 25th, 1968.

Suggested sites for Upton Sinclair:

Encyclopedia article about Upton Sinclair
Texts by Sinclair
The Jungle
Expose on the Chicago meat industry. Brought about the Pure Food and Drug Act.

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